A fire broke out at the Statue of Liberty Museum construction site on Monday, forcing 3,400 people to evacuate New York’s most famous tourist attraction, reported CBS News. The incident occurred on the north side of Liberty Island where the 26,000-square-foot museum, designed by FXCollaborative, is currently being built. According to the FDNY, three 100-pound propane tanks caught fire around noon yesterday where a new security screening facility is under construction. Work was being done on the roof of the building, which sits about 200 feet from the base of the statue, during the time of the fire. None of the tanks exploded due to the accident but one construction worker was injured. It took firefighters two hours to contain the flames. Set to open next May, the $70-million museum is being developed by the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The existing museum, which is laid out inside the statue herself, can’t accommodate the number of tourists the site sees per day. The new expansive design will be able to hold over 1,000 visitors per hour and will include three gallery spaces covering 15,000 square feet of the facility along with an outdoor plaza and a green roof that doubles as a terrace overlooking the monument. The museum will also sit above 500-year flood levels and feature exterior materials that can withstand hurricane-force winds and inclement weather. As of 2 p.m. Monday, the island opened back up to visitors and work resumed on the scene. The site has been under construction for just over a year by Phelps Construction Group and is on track for a spring 2019 opening.
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After spending a year in Bowling Green Park, the Fearless Girl is moving to the New York Stock Exchange. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the 50-inch-tall sculpture will be relocated to a “long-term” home outside the Stock Exchange by the end of the year. His announcement confirms a report in The Architects’ Newspaper last month. The popular bronze sculpture, which depicts a girl standing defiantly with chin out and hands on hips, became a magnet for visitors after it was installed at Broadway and Morris Street just before International Women’s Day in March of 2017. But it also raised safety concerns for city officials, who didn’t think the narrow public space on Broadway could accommodate the high number of pedestrians who were visiting, many seemingly oblivious to the vehicular traffic all around. “We are proud to be home to the Fearless Girl. She is a powerful symbol of the need for change at the highest levels of corporate America—and she will become a durable part of our city’s civic life,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This move to a new location will improve access for visitors and ensure that her message and impact continues to be heard.” The sculpture by Delaware-based artist Kristen Visbal was commissioned by State Street Global Advisors to raise awareness of the need for more women on corporate boards. In the year since it was installed, more than 150 companies have added a woman to their board, according to State Street president and CEO Cyrus Taraporevala. “Our hope is that by moving closer to the NYSE she will inspire many more companies to take action,” he said in a statement. The Stock Exchange at 11 Wall Street is an appropriate location for the sculpture, said president Thomas Farley, in a statement. “The historic corner of Wall & Broad saw the swearing in of our country’s first president and the birth of our capital markets, and is joined now by a striking symbol of our ongoing journey toward greater equality [and] broader inclusion,” he said. “We eagerly await the arrival of Fearless Girl to her fitting new home.” Much of the sculpture’s impact is due to its location facing another work of art, Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull, positioned as if standing up to the animal. There has been talk about moving the bull with the Fearless Girl sculpture, so they can stay together, but no decisions about that have been announced. “I’d love it if she could stare down the Charging Bull for the rest of time,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as part of the mayor’s announcement. “But even if she can’t, I’m glad she will stay in the neighborhood and remind those who pass by the Stock Exchange that it’s past time for companies to put more women in boardrooms and in charge.” The Fearless Girl has become something of a cottage industry for the artist, who is now selling “limited edition” reproductions of the sculpture, ranging from desktop versions to full size. The smaller version is about 22 inches tall and costs $6,500, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to charities that support “one or any of the gender diversity goals Fearless Girl stands for,” according to a website set up by the artist. According to CNNMoney, the artist has sold three copies of the full-size version, including one that’s already on exhibit in Oslo, Norway. Twenty-five will be cast in all. The artist also has plans to sell smaller reproductions and children’s books based on the Fearless Girl character, the network reported. Those who want another sort of connection to the Fearless Girl can purchase a signed black-and-white photo of the sculpture, taken by Federica Valabrega, for up to $5,000. Or they can do what thousands have done and take their own.
In upcoming months, Airbnb will complete Niido Powered By Airbnb, the company's first independent apartment complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The project's developer is Newgard Development Group, a Miami-based firm run by Harvey Hernandez, who first approached Airbnb with the concept in 2015. Airbnb will not own the buildings, but serve as a "branded partner" to the project. Instead of ignoring the tension between the landlord who doesn't want home-sharing to occur and the tenant who wants to rent out their home for additional income, this program makes the landlord and tenant partners in the home-sharing process. “The Niido model will provide additional income to landlords and tenants while enhancing the experience for Airbnb guests. Niido eliminates barriers by encouraging home sharing and creating solutions that work for everyone," said Hernandez in a prepared statement. Residents of the 324-unit Niido will have the option of renting out their apartments via Airbnb up to 180 days a year, providing an easy secondary source of income. Airbnb will take its standard three percent fee, while Newgard will take 25 percent and the remainder will go to the tenant. Amenities for the entire complex will be provided through Airbnb Experiences, the company's platform for providing local tours and learning experiences to tourists. Kissimmee, a small city on the outskirts of Orlando, is close to several large amusement parks, including Busch Gardens, Legoland, SeaWorld, and Walt Disney World. Seasonal workers would be among the tenants who might benefit from this program. According to JaJa Jackson, Airbnb's director of global multifamily housing partnerships, every aspect of the complex's design was thought through with the potential for sub-rentals in mind. Though renderings have not yet been released nor an architect named, some details are available to the public. Apartments will feature large common areas and flexible room identities, with offices and other spaces concealing Murphy beds, allowing units to readily accommodate more travelers. Residents will also be able to control the apartment's Wifi and maintenance through a custom Airbnb app. With so many visitors coming and going, an added security feature is a keyless entry system with temporary codes produced only for the duration of a guest's stay, while each room will contain a secure nook where residents can store personal possessions. In Florida and many other states, landlords and the hospitality industry have decried Airbnb for absorbing their profits and bringing unknown guests into shared buildings, among other concerns. To address some of these issues, Airbnb created the Friendly Building Program, which allows building owners to monitor and restrict apartment and home shares while also getting a cut of the service fee. Niido will essentially take this concept and privatize it, reallocating those funds to building management and programs. Hernandez and Airbnb are currently seeking to expand the rent-share apartment complex model to other Southeastern states, with a goal of 2,000 apartments over the next two years.
Canal lovers near and far, gird your loins. In his latest infrastructural move, Governor Cuomo announced a global competition to re-imagine the New York State Canal System as a tourist destination and an economic driver for upstate communities. Up to $2.5 million will be awarded to the finalists and winners to implement their designs. Many may not realize that it is possible to get from Whitehall, New York all the way to Buffalo entirely by canal (there should be a Paddle to the Sea for this), but with this announcement Governor Cuomo is looking to draw the public eye back to one of the state's greatest historic, economic, ecological, and recreational resources – and to the urban spaces dotting the blueway end to end. The competition was timed to coincide with the bicentennial celebration of the Erie Canal that begins this year and will continue until 2025, which commemorates its construction from 1817 to 1825. Additionally, next year will mark the centennial of the New York State Canal System, 524 miles in total, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016. The competition's goals are admittedly somewhat vague and broad at this stage, with a charge to promote the canal system as a "recreational asset," encourage "sustainable economic development" along its route, celebrate its heritage, and so on. However, the challenge is clearly divided into two tracks: one focused on the infrastructure itself, another focused on the development of recreation and tourism opportunities. Submissions for the first round of entries are due at the beginning of December 2017. The finalists will receive $50,000 to implement their proposal in partnership with a municipality adjacent to a canal or a non-profit whose work relates to the canal system. The final winner or winners will receive anywhere from $250,00 to $1.5 million – a fairly large range, by our estimation – to plan and build their projects. With the Regional Plan Association's recent announcement of a plan to connect and expand New York's trail systems up into the mid-Hudson valley, Cuomo's canal competition has AN wondering: if both plans are implemented, will it be possible to depart from our Tribeca office, hike to Albany on public lands, and set off for the Great Lakes via canoe through the newly revamped canal system? Only time will tell.
HNA Group has announced a design competition for the master plan and central buildings on a man-made island in Haikou Bay, China. The island, called the South Sea Pearl (and Nanhai Pearl Artificial Island), will be an eco-tourism hub with housing, a cruise ship port, a yacht harbor, hotels, resorts, a theme park, and more. HNA Group is the owner of several other properties in the area and across China, including the supertall skyscraper Haikou Tower due to be completed in 2020. They also own Hainan Airlines, the fourth largest airline in China. The crescent-shaped island is 250 hectares in size and located off the coast of Hainan, China, a larger island in the South China Sea with a population of 9 million. According to ArchDaily, Vincente Guallart was selected to create a strategic vision for the island. Guallart told ArchDaily the goal was to "achieve a new urban development based on ecological principles." The ten firms that will compete to design the island are London-based Foster + Partners, New York-based Morphosis Architects, Office of Architecture in Barcelona, New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Seoul-based Iroje Architects & Planners, Seoul-based UNStudio, Rotterdam-based KuiperCompagnons, Los Angeles-based The Jerde Partnership, Beijing-based CCDI, and internationally-based Boston International Design Group. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and take approximately a decade, wrapping up in 2027.
New York and London-based firms Davis Brody Bond and Marks Barfield have put together the initial plans of a gondola network that would run through Chicago's city center. Called the "Chicago Skyline," the idea is the brainchild of businessmen, Lou Raizin, founder of Broadway in Chicago and Laurence Geller, chairman and CEO of Geller Capital Partners. The gondolas would serve as a major tourist attraction, showcasing Chicago's architectural splendor while also establishing a link, unhindered by traffic, to major sight-seeing locations and areas of interest such as the lakefront, downtown, riverwalk, Millennium Park, and the Navy pier. https://vimeo.com/165363195 Aside from shuttling tourist's across the city, the system would offer a unique view of Chicago's famed high-rise cityscape. Previously unobtainable views over trees and across the river would cast the city in a new light and no doubt become a must-do for visitors. "The Skyline is a prime example of how we can move Chicago from old guard to vanguard," said Lou Raizin in the Chicago Tribune. "We kept coming back to the same question: What's our unique feature? Where's our Eiffel Tower? Where's our Big Ben? These ideas are our attempt to answer this question and are intended to start a conversation in the city about what we would like our reputation to be in the future." "If the will of the people is there, this project flies literally," he added. "This is iconic," said Geller meanwhile, going onto add that "the world requests iconic destinations." As for capacity, designers have so far catered for up to 3,000 riders an hour with journeys lasting around 30 minutes. The cable-cars would travel at just under 9 miles per hour at 800 feet above street level, operating year-round. Fare prices meanwhile, are yet to be determined, however, the Tribune reports they are likely fall within the range of other ticketed vantage points like the observation decks at the Willis Tower and John Hancock Center, at around $20. The project would cost $250 million, and while Geller believes it could be paid for privately, he and Raizin are currently seeking public comments on the idea. A statement from the Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said: "These investments, which don't require taxpayer dollars, create good-paying jobs, pump money into our neighborhood economies, and increase educational and cultural opportunities for city youth. The Mayor welcomes a dialogue about any proposals that meet these goals." "We believe the way forward is by showcasing Chicago as a city of neighborhoods and building projects that capture the mind and inspire the soul of both residents and visitors alike," said Geller in a press release. Of the two design firms on the project, both can boast an established pedigree in observation and cable-based projects. David Marks of Marks Barfield for example, worked on the London Eye, which has subsequently become Britain's most lucrative tourist attraction. Davis Brody Bond on the other hand, was the architect behind the September 11 Memorial Museum in New York while also being a cable lift manufacturer and of Walsh Construction, the company that built the Riverwalk and Maggie Daley Park.
Navy Pier’s new “Wave Wall” by nArchitects lays a modern Spanish Steps at the foot of a Ferris wheel
Navy Pier is three years into a $278 million overhaul, and the new face of Illinois' most visited tourist attraction is beginning to emerge—most recently a grand staircase titled “Wave Wall" washed over the foot of the pier's famous ferris wheel. The peninsular mall and mixed-use amusement park has many major changes still in store, courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. But photos available on the website of designers nARCHITECTS reveal a completed portion of the project collectively called “Pierscape” that creates an outdoor amphitheater from a simple stairway. (The full design team includes dozens of consultants.) The form of the new public space, which faces south into Chicago Harbor, resembles a sweeping wave or a wending draft of wind. Treads made of composite materials domesticate the snarling steel risers. Glass beneath the steps allow passersby indoors at the Pier to glimpse activity on the steps outside. From the bottom of the stairs, the project unspools into an audience seating area for public performances, and also frames the historic Navy Pier Ferris wheel—a 196-foot tall wheel will soon replace the current one, itself a stand-in for the 264-foot icon first transported to the spot from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The designers say “Wave Wall” was inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Lucrative gains from annual religious pilgrimage has the Saudi Ministry of Finance clamoring to build the world’s largest hotel in the desert of Mecca, featuring 10,000 guest rooms, four helipads, and 12 tightly clustered towers on a 10-story plinth. Crowned at its summit by one of the largest domes in the world, the $3.6 billion mega-hotel has five off-limits floors earmarked for Saudi royalty, 70 restaurants, and an entire multi-function commercial space at its base for a shopping mall, food courts, a bus station, conference center and a lavishly appointed ballroom. Construction conglomerate Dar Al-Handasah designed the mammoth edifice to model a “traditional desert fortress,” sporting flourishes such as fluted pink pilasters framing arched blue-mirrored windows. The two towers within the dome will rise up 45 storeys above the Mecca desert, while two more towers will attain 35 floors, with the remaining eight towers at 30 storeys tall. London-based interior design firm Areen Hospitality has signed on to appoint the interior spaces in the palatial luxury typical of the region. While deep pockets are an unspoken mandate, guests can choose between four and five-star luxury accommodations. The hotel occupies a 646,000-square-foot site in the Manafi district, and is less than one mile south of the Grand Mosque, thronged by two million pilgrims per year and currently undergoing a $61 billion expansion to accommodate seven million worshippers by 2040. The world’s largest hotel by number of hotel rooms, soon to be dwarfed by the Abraj Kudai, is the MGM Grand Las Vegas at 6,198 guestrooms. The gargantuan construction, opening in 2017, is the latest in a spate of residential and commercial developments galvanized by rising tourism revenue, currently raking in more than $9.2 billion annually. An example is the Jabal Omar development along the western edge of Mecca, which will accommodate nearly 100,000 people in 26 luxury hotels, as well as a six-story prayer hall. “The city is turning into Meca-hattan” Irfan Al-Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Guardian. “Everything has been swept away to make way for the incessant march of luxury hotels, which are destroying the sanctity of the place and pricing normal pilgrims out.”
Graffiti: art or vandalism? For some there's an absolute answer to that question, but for most there's room for debate. In New York City, police chief Bill Bratton calls graffiti "the first sign of urban decay," while work from Banksy (and sometimes lesser-known street artists) fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at New York auctions. Detroit became the latest city to grapple with this question in an official capacity, with city council members previewing ordinances designed to cut back on blight that have brought a somewhat philosophical question into sharp legal focus: How do you distinguish between blight and art in a city renowned (or reviled) for both? Council member Raquel Castañeda-López told Detroit's MetroTimes she and her colleagues are considering a variety of ordinances. One would fine building owners for not promptly removing graffiti on their property, and offer tax incentives for installing deterrents like security cameras. To exempt legitimate works of art, Castañeda-López also said they're looking into creating a citywide registry for street art. That's a complex task, however, especially for a cash-strapped city like Detroit. They're trying to avoid repeating an embarrassing mistake made last year, when city officials issued more than $8,000 in fines to commissioned graffiti galleries along the city's Grand River Creative Corridor. Collectives like the Heidelberg Project and individual artists like Brian Glass, known as Sintex, continue to battle with city officials who must enforce vandalism statutes while enjoying the creative community's substantial tourist draw. Funding for the citywide registry could come from a “one percent for art” program that earmarks public development money for cultural programs. "We're deciding what makes the most sense for the city," Castañeda-López told the MetroTimes' Lee DeVito. The city will schedule public meetings later this month to continue the conversation.
Parabola cantilever walkway delivers park visitors to the brink.Concerned that visitors to Canada's national parks were becoming increasingly disengaged from both the experience of the outdoors and the reality of climate change, Parks Canada launched a search for private-sector initiatives to reverse the trend toward drive-through tourism. Brewster Travel Canada answered the call with a limited design competition for a walkable structure in Jasper National Park's Sunwapta Valley. "One of the bus drivers suggested that we do something over this particular gorge, Trickle Creek Canyon—something that could be suspended off the side of the mountain that brought visitors into a more intimate relationship with the Athabasca Glacier and its melting," explained Sturgess Architecture principal Jeremy Sturgess. With design-build team lead PCL Construction Management and structural engineer Read Jones Christoffersen (RJC), Sturgess' firm crafted a cantilevered walkway that, clad in weathering steel and glass, defers to its natural surroundings while providing breathtaking views of the glacier and valley floor. Though not a facade itself, Glacier Skywalk warrants discussion within the context of high-performance building envelopes for its innovative structure and streamlined approach to materials—the "+" in Facades+. Though the expected solution to the competition brief was a suspension bridge or other high-masted element, "we thought as a team that this approach would not be appropriate to the site," recalled Sturgess. "As much as we were going to make something courageous and heroic, we also wanted it to be subtle." RJC's Simon Brown came up with the idea of a parabola cantilever that draws visitors 35 meters beyond the face of the cliff. Sturgess Architecture focused on minimizing the material palette, relying primarily on Corten and glass, plus gabion mats filled with local rocks and concrete on the adjoining interpretive walk. "The idea was that the Corten would emulate the ferric oxide outcropping that you see on the existing mountainside," said Sturgess. "We wanted the whole element to feel fractal and extruded from the mountainside. As much as it was clearly manmade, it was to be as sensitive to the local environment as possible." Glacier Skywalk's signature design element is its glass floor, constructed in three layers—two structural, the third designed to be easily replaced if broken or otherwise damaged. "I'm a little nervous about walking on glass floors," admitted Sturgess. Several times he suggested replacing the glass with an opaque material to save money, but the rest of the team refused to let go. "Normally when I've worked in design-build, the gun is to our head and the finger's on the trigger," said Sturgess. "In this case, every time we suggested, 'We can save money here,' everyone on the design team was so in love with the concept, we couldn't lose anything lightly." Sturgess Architecture swapped Rhino models with PCL, RJC, and Heavy Industries, who formed all of the Corten work, throughout the design development phase. "I've never gone through such an extraordinary hands-on design process working with the actual craftsman of the solution," said Sturgess. "This iterative process of working with the team as we crafted every piece kind of by hand—though on the computer—is what led to the success of the project." In combination with its geologically inspired cladding, Glacier Skywalk's minimal structure delivers an illusion of weightlessness that only adds to the sense of exposure. The curvature of the walkway allowed RJC to install a nearly invisible cable suspension system to counterbalance its outward propulsion. "It expresses the thrust from the mountainside, and it does it in a way that makes it feel like a really integral fit with the [landscape]," said Sturgess. "The success is that it's not too much."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement that Chicago would launch an international festival of art and architecture—its own take on the famous Venice biennale—drew jeers and cheers from the design community both near and far from The Second City. AN called for the show aspiring to be North America's largest architectural exhibition to go beyond tourism bromides. Now the upstart expo has a name, as well as its first show. The inaugural Chicago architecture biennial will begin in October 2015, and will be called “The State of the Art of Architecture,” in reference to the controversial conference organized in 1977 by architect Stanley Tigerman. Tigerman's show celebrated the postmodern rejection of Chicago's old masters like Mies van der Rohe, forging the position of architectural protest group The Chicago Seven. A press release from the organizing committee alludes to the upcoming exhibition's wide scope:
More than a profession or a repertoire of built artifacts, architecture is a dynamic cultural practice that manifests at different scales and through various media: buildings and cities, but also art, performance, film, landscape and new technologies. It permeates fundamental registers of everyday life—from housing to education, from environmental awareness to economic growth, from local communities to global networks.The biennial's first commission was announced Wednesday by co-directors Joseph Grima—a former curator of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and director of the Ideas City platform of the New Museum—and Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation and AN editorial advisor. Renowned photographer Iwan Baan will contribute an original photo essay about Chicago featuring aerial shots taken at sunrise. The work will “capture the city during a moment of its daily routine,” according to the press release. “Like the Biennial itself, Baan’s expansive photographs interpret Chicago as a realm of architectural possibility, past and future.” The free festival's home base will be the Chicago Cultural Center, but organizers say it won't be restricted to downtown. “Using the city as a canvas, installations will be created in Millennium Park and other Chicago neighborhoods, including new projects and public programs developed by renowned artist Theaster Gates on Chicago’s south side,” reads a press release. “The Biennial will also feature collateral exhibitions and events with partner institutions throughout the city, and will offer educational programming for local and international students.” Tigerman, whose 1977 exhibition is the inspiration for the 2015 show's title, sits on the biennial's International Advisory Committee, which also includes architects David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, and Frank Gehry, along with critic Sylvia Lavin, Lord Peter Palumbo and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Ty Tabing, former executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance and founder of Singapore River One, will serve as the biennial's executive director. Oil giant BP has agreed to donate $2.5 million for the show, but Mayor Emanuel is reportedly seeking $1.5 million more.
Open House Chicago is this weekend, October 18 and 19, when 150 of the city's architectural gems—both new and old, well-known and obscure, public year-round and off-limits but for now—open their doors to enthusiasts of the built environment, free of charge. Last year's event built on 2012's, the second go-around for this increasingly popular festival of architecture that highlights places and spaces all over the city. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and sponsored by Kemper, Art Works, ComEd, and CTA, the event generally runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. But hours vary by location, so check beforehand. As always, the sites on display span a wide variety of neighborhoods and building types, from architects' offices to historical relics. A few of the 18 neighborhoods represented are new this year—Ukrainian Village, Edgewater, Goose Island, Bronzeville, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood have all joined the party. If you go, Tweet and Instagram @archpaper with your photos, using the hashtag #OHC2014. Check out a full list of sites at openhousechicago.org.